Trieste, the capital of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, was not in my line of sight until it became clear that my father’s family was from the Trieste area before it was Italy. My dad considered himself Austrian. Trieste and its mighty harbor was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until there was an agreement to give it to Italy at the end of WWI. Here is an article about the history if you want to know more: https://www.britannica.com/place/Trieste-Italy
There is only one visit I remember, as a young child, when my grandmother was still alive. When I think back to that day, I have later realized my grandmother had been so busy birthing babies and caring for them in the USA (10, if my count is accurate), it became clear as to why she had no time to learn English. I have a vivid memory of this gathering of my father, his siblings, and family members of all. What stuck out most in my mind was seeing my simply dressed stocky grandmother with kitchen apron worn atop her housedress busily sliding pans in and out of the oven so she could try and keep up with her hungry family guests who found ways to plant themselves, and not lift a finger to help her, in the tight smoke-filled living room for this visit.
Maybe coal miners before coming to America and always struggling to make a living even when they did. With that many children, it would be rare if they didn’t have some financial worries. Kind and generous to one another and always looking out after one another is a trait that seemed to be instilled in them while growing up.
Now this explanation (seen in a real estate apartment ad) explains a little further about the various titles/names thrown about regarding where the hotel/resort was where I stayed outside Trieste. “Sistiana is part of the municipality of Duino-Aurisina, and it is an important tourist center in the province of Trieste with its wide bay, also called Sistiana Mare, where there is a marina, bathing establishments, restaurants, bars and the exclusive marina of Portopiccolo“.
Portopiccolo came into the picture when I decided on the hotel I wanted to stay at while visiting this region. I decided on the Falisia because it was a part of a highly developed resort complex which included condominiums (or apartments, as the realtors called them), that were constructed by sending them up a steep hillside. Those ‘apartments’ were accompanied by even more at the level of the harbor which were in and amongst what might be considered a stylized mini village, rightly so, because there were a few restaurants, cafe/bakery, numerous clothing and home shops as well as an elaborate spa with endless sea views and lounge chairs to relax while taking in the views.
The aesthetics and ingenuity of this resort concept fascinated me so much, I couldn’t resist staying there, even though it was about a 30 minute drive from Trieste. After all, my father’s family was not known to live in the city but rather, as best I know, in the countryside outside of the city.
When staying there, I requested a tour of the apartments by one of the onsite realtors. All the hillside apartments had spectacular views of the Gulf. Not to play down the views and the thoughtful style and generous quality of the apartments, what was really ingenious is the elevators you take to get to the various levels.
The elevators are built INTO the rocky hillside!! Not only that but they are at an angle, not straight up and down! The realtor told me about the man who had dreamt up this project decades ago and it had finally come to fruition, albeit 75 years later, I believe he said!
During this block of travel, I had included chunks of time in Paris and Nice but I had also included about 2+ weeks to zoom through first time destinations of Prague, Salzburg, Vienna, and Trieste. All locations I had not been to before and all ones I would recommend for various reasons. So short stops, 4 nights or so in each and all filled with enjoyment and curiosity, although I always walk away from brief visits like that knowing I have only touched the surface of the region and some leave me yearning to know more. Do you have the same feeling?
But back to Trieste. Once I flew into the Trieste airport, I rented a car with GPS, only to find out the GPS system had not been updated and through a stormy evening with rainy glare on a never-been-traveled-by-me highway, I took the GPS announced exit but ended up on a street that was in what seemed like a modest neighborhood with a woman homeowner staring out her kitchen window while washing her dinner dishes, wondering why this unfamiliar car was temporarily parked outside her house. Of course, I was trying to sort out where to go from there! And, of course, the pouring…yes ‘cats and dogs’ and darkness, just about fully settled in now, was not helping my directionally challenged well-known behavior.
Knowing I was close and no longer able to rely on the GPS system, I went back to the directions given to me by the resort and ended up driving down a twisty seemingly off-the-beaten path road until I was at water level with a tiny harbor for the locals right alongside me. This location didn’t make sense either as the entrance to this sophisticated resort but with my quizzical look and pointing to my paper with the hotel directions, when shown to a man who was bringing his boat to shore, I was given a nod along with the well-known-all-over-the-world hand-waving gesture egging me to continue.
Trusting he knew more than I did, I continued and soon found I was not far from the designated resort gate entrance. As I was buzzed in through the gate, I drove a bit further finding out now my only choice was to enter into even more darkness, only then realizing I was now driving in a cave! Eery and feeling a bit suspicious, I crept the car up a bit further, gradually adjusting to this even darker light, then finding a lighted sign which fortunately beckoned me to check into the hotel! Mysterious, intriguing, secretly exciting and fantabulous all at the same time! OH! and, yes, there were parking spaces along with youthful smiling suited-up hotel staff offering to assist me.
I was guided to the formal reception desk upstairs, met up with a receptionist who warmly greeted me and, once the paperwork was handled, I was shown to my room with an enticing but downpour-of-a-view of the harbor. After spending a few minutes trying to make myself a bit more presentable, I made my way down to the bar for a bite to eat and a drink and allow the stress of the drive to wash away. I noticed a couple of women in the bar sitting across from me. They smiled and returned my gentle nod of a greeting.
Soon rewarded with a more than generous complimentary plate of hor d’ouevres as a side to my drink, a thrill chill ran down my spine, now feeling assured my destination was as I had imagined it to be-an adventure to unfold over the few days I had allowed for this visit. Add in the knowledge i was now snug, warm, comfortable, safe and out of the rain instead of being soaked by it, well, I started to settle in nicely.
However, after a few minutes, the two Italian women asked me to join them. They wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I agreed….Well, Welcome to Italy! I don’t know about your experiences, but my take is the French are more reserved and it would have been very unlikely that they would have invited me to join them? What do you think?
Both women spoke English, were from Trieste, and designers by trade. And, as it often goes with women, it didn’t take much for us to quickly pick up our chatter speed! They had been there all day setting up for the first ever weekend design expo that had a start date of the following morning. They gave me their business cards and encouraged me to call if I had questions about the area, as well as took the time to write down a few suggestions for me regarding my Trieste visit.
After an hour or so of getting to know one another, they needed to make their way back to their families. On their way out, once again, I felt the Italian warmth shining through. Unbeknownst to me, when I went to pay for my drink, they had already picked up my tab while paying theirs.
The following morning I woke up in Portopiccolo!! This is a short but gorgeous video of the region and its activities. I can’t seem to separate out the video titled: Friuli-Venezia Giulia from the others regarding Portopiccolo. But the one I was most interested in making available to you is the one of the region. It is well done, the music appropriate and, I don’t know about your viewing of it, but it made me want to return even though I won’t be able to include a number of the more active adventures they showed that one can enjoy in the region. https://vimeo.com/user83807435
I realize now, more than ever, that I didn’t do my due diligence before traveling to Trieste. Most likely due to not enough time to do so. In some ways, I am pleased to just ‘be’ in a new location and very gradually open up to first impressions without too much input and consider that OK–enough. After reading the attached articles below, watching the videos, and knowing this is the area my father’s family was from, I am enthralled with the idea of a return visit. Even the detective series (Inspector Vivaldi) I noted captured my heart and bends me more towards Italians than the French. Psssttt…Keep that a secret as it is not well known amongst my fellow French lover friends. I also gave you a link to all the movies that have been shot in Trieste. Who knew?
Night arrival and morning waking view out my window. And more delightful views from a multitude of angles of Portopiccolo and its bay.
Always some unexpected attractions and details that I adore. Rosemary growing in a planter built into a stone wall along a pathway of the resort. A cafe/bakery and a pizza restaurant.
As it turns out, I only had one day in Trieste and, by the looks of these videos and articles I have provided below, I am formulating a list for my return stay. But I did hit some landmarks. Fortunately, it was easy to park (paid parking) on the sea side of the city. As I am so directionally challenged, it is common for me to take photos of my arrival area in case I need some help getting back to my car after wandering around for the day.
There seemed to be a musical event going on in the Piazza that day. I loved how the children rested their backpacks against the building, trusting they would be OK while they enjoyed the various activities. Because this region is not highly touristy, I expected the city to be old, rather dull and dated. But, remember, my first encounter with locals were 2 women in the design business so I was conflicted about what I was going to see…and might I say naive too?
This was in April and a day that happened to threaten with dark, ominous clouds so it came across as devoid of not only visitors but also the locals. Yet, as you scroll down, you will see some color and taste bring it back to life amongst the historically preserved facades. The prized Illy coffee has a presence there since this is where it all began!
Donuts, muffins, gelato!
Lunch at this concierge suggested restaurant not only set me up in front of one of those extended Italian menus but also what else but a beloved seafood pasta! You can see the water glass design was contemporary and charming. Now that I think of it, why didn’t I ask them if I could purchase a few to take home with me? Or these leaf designed espresso cups at a cafe I passed?
The teenagers you see happened to be pouring out of the nearby school. And, again, I stumbled across this design workshop and bought some wood-crafted gifts for relatives for Christmas.
Highlights? There were many. Two of them are just below. The woman on the right and I figured out a way, with pointing and hand signals, how to communicate the sending of my parcels to my relatives. Once we got the hang of it, we moved steadily to accomplish the task together. I missed the most endearing photo at the Farmacia entrance door. This women came to get her prescriptions filled. The pharmacist came out to assist her and I was so emotionally taken by their interaction, I missed the photo. Here she is patiently waiting her order.
And back at Falisia/Portopiccolo, I was captivated by the children and their gelato licking. Happens all over the world, doesn’t it, to those who are fortunate to have it offered to them.
So the sweet younger set got my attention. But look at these two below. As you can see, I followed these two more elderly gentlemen with my camera. Lucky me to see their focused conversation and a capture of time gingerly spent between two men.
The design expo attended. And a tour of the shops at Portopiccolo. ALL of this began to give me a better understanding of the region. Unfortunately, I missed a tour of the Castle and its gardens because I spent too long in the city of Trieste. I did drive by it on my way to Trieste. A grand canal? I didn’t even know there was one in the center of Trieste! An annual regatta in the Fall. Now that would be a special thing to see! And, didn’t the NPR article mention two separate areas for men and women to swim still existing today? Have I peaked your interest?
Serene and soothing…
The most recent article (NPR) and maybe my favorite because of its discussion of the blending of cultures: https://www.npr.org/2021/07/30/1020828045/a-once-forgotten-port-of-italy-is-alive-with-a-diverse-cultural-and-literary-leg?utm_campaign=npr&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_term=nprnews&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR3XIzvE191sB1hHqa919TSprmcGnXfe8XiFEh–Ys0sGKPdTDWjmLz1vTo
Although Falisia is a member of the Marriott Bonvoy collection and runs on the pricey side and may well not for be for everyone, I did find this website that might be helpful in finding a Trieste hotel: https://www.luxuryhotelsguides.com/?fullufi=-131346&gclid=CjwKCAjwyIKJBhBPEiwAu7zllwM4ecP0QoAHTOTCMOTIGJ8qK6hdFjILIU1pqOVqnYqVzlnN_BvINhoCkP0QAvD_B
FYI: Day trips (1.5 to 2.5 hours driving each way) can be done to Lake Bled in Slovenia , Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, Rovinj, Croatia, and Venice from Trieste, for instance! I have been to all with the exception of Lake Bled and can highly recommend the three I have experienced.
Also some of the articles have hotel/apartment suggestions at seemingly very decent prices and style/comfort too.